Study Drugs

The misuse of prescription drugs, especially study drugs, is a growing problem on college campuses. Some students feel like everyone they know is using study drugs, and they feel pressured to use or to 'catch up' with peers.

Prescription drugs used to increase concentration and memory for the purpose of studying are referred to as smart drugs or memory enhancers. Study drugs are prescription stimulant medications that are sometimes used improperly by a person with a prescription, or more often, illegally by a person without a prescription. The medications used are meant to treat Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), which affect attention span, impulse control, self-discipline, and hyperactivity in the case of ADHD.

Prescription stimulants used to treat ADD and ADHD include Ritalin®, Adderall®, Concerta®, and Focalin®. Using or buying these medications without a prescription is illegal. Selling your own prescription is also illegal.

Side Effects

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Adderall can cause hallucinations, impulsive behavior, paranoia, and irritability. These are among a long list of dangerous side effects when used by people for whom the drugs are not prescribed.

  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Nervousness
  • Paranoia
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Mouth dryness
  • Suppressed appetite
  • Diarrhea or constipation
  • Impotence or changes in sex drive

Prescription stimulants like Adderall® and Ritalin® have potential for physical and psychological dependence, particularly among people who do not have ADHD. Continued use will result in higher tolerance to the drug and eventually require larger doses to reap the same effects. Once discontinued, withdrawal effects such as depression may occur.

Overwhelmed with academic stresses?

Some students may feel like study drugs and cramming are their only options for success. There are a number of resources on campus to help you deal with academic and more generalized stress.

Visit Student Services for tutoring, study strategies, and help with time management skills. Visit the Counseling and Advising Center for help dealing with stress and anxiety.

Having problems with your ability to concentrate?

Make an appointment with Boynton Health Services or talk to your primary healthcare provider. They can help you figure out your next steps.

612-625-3222 (appointments)
612-625-8400 (information)
612-625-7900 (medical information nurse)

National Institute on Drug Abuse

Read more about prescription drug misuse on the National Institute on Drug Abuse website.